Persecuted writers receive Human Rights Watch aid

Twenty-eight writers from 13 countries are to receive grants in recognition of their courage in the face of political persecution, Human Rights Watch announced.

The Hellman/Hammett grants provide assistance to writers in financial need as a result of expressing their views. Recipients include: Armenian journalist Mark Grigorian, who was seriously wounded in October when an attacker threw a grenade at him. He fled to London and now works at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting.

Khaing Mar Kyaw Zaw, Burmese poet journalist and teacher, an ethnic Karen, one of Burma’s largest minority populations. She is the Burmese-language editor for the Karen Information Center.

Njaru Philip, who has been targeted by the Cameroon authorities because of his articles about corruption and human rights violations.

Nji Renatus Che, also from Cameroon, whose house was burned down and he and his family members harassed after he wrote an article in which he said that Sharia (Islamic law) in Nigeria abuses human rights.

Liu Binyan from China, whose work has criticised Chinese Communist Party officials for corruption, repression of press freedom, and suppression of peoples’ basic rights.

Khaled Abdu from Eritrea, co-founder and former editor-in-chief of Admas, one of the first independent newspapers in Eritrea. In 2000, as the climate for dissent in Eritrea worsened, his brother disappeared in the port city of Massawa. Abdu feared he might be next and fled to Saudi Arabia.

Aaron Berhane from Eritrea, writer and editor at Setit. The Government shut down Setit and Berhane went into hiding.

Lubaba Said from Ethiopia, former editor-in-chief of Tarik newspaper. He was tried on charges of violating the “prevention of propaganda for war” provision of the Ethiopian Press Law.

Tom Kamara from Liberia, who founded the New Democrat in 1993 at the height of the civil war. In July 2000, the Government closed the paper down by barring advertising.

Kawther Salam from Palestine, who has worked with Israeli peace groups and foreign journalists to document the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since September 2000.

The grants are financed by the estate of the playwrite Lillian Hellman in funds set up in her name and that of her long-time companion, the novelist Dashiell Hammett.

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